“The problem in many professional schools is that you either have professors with just pure academic training or professors from the real world without any advanced academic training, so the former have trouble connecting their teaching to the real world and the latter end up telling a bunch of stories ‘war’ don’t hang together with a good theory.”
“I study resiliency and I think it also applies to individuals,” she said. “I hope students see what it is to be a resilient individual, what it means to cope with adversity and defeat, but to do so in a way that you’re always learning from it.”
Prof. Jane-Marie Law, Asian, Near Eastern, and religious studies stays busy teaching Introduction to Japan, operating a sustainable farm and taking a group of students to Japan every summer, yet still finds time to meditate. Law encourages her students to explore subject matter through movies, theatre and art viewings and helps her students to interact with class material by sharing personal stories. “What I’ve discovered is that what people really want to hear is other people’s stories,” she said. “They don’t really want to hear other people’s truths. [That’s why] I never talk about something that I don’t really care about.”
In addition to her course material, Law has strong feelings on the education system, which she believes confines students’ curiosity rather than encouraging imagination.
“[The recognition is] not nearly as important to me as the opportunity to have been genuinely touched by the humanity of those that have been dehumanized … who the world insists are something less than human,” he said.
“What I do is support the number one agricultural industry in New York state [Cornell Dairy],” Ralyea said. “I try to keep New York state on the map with dairy. I’d like to have New York kick Wisconsin’s ass in cheese production.”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I envision myself with a couple thousand spiders in my lab,” said senior lecturer Dr. Linda Rayor, entomology. As a behavioral ecologist, Rayor focuses on the interactions of group-living animals — currently spiders — and teaches an array of classes ranging from insect behavior to scientific outreach. Rayor said she decided to become a scientist at a very young age, but never foresaw a future working with insects and arachnids. As a child, Rayor said she remembers frequenting the Denver Zoo in Colorado, which she said helped kindle her interest in science, natural investigation and animals. Despite this, she said she chose to pursue molecular biology as an undergraduate at University of Colorado Boulder.
Duff’s mother was a preschool and elementary school teacher, and his father was an army doctor who also taught medical students. Still, it took him some time to realize that his love for learning would lead him down the same road as his parents.
After he finished his undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley, Prof. Ross Brann, Near Eastern Studies, said he knew he wanted to remain on a college campus. “Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the incredible energy and the obvious significance of ideas in transforming public debate on issues of racial and socio-economic justice and war and peace was so much a part of being on a campus in the late 60s, a time of immense social and political change in the United States,” he said. “Campuses were alive with intellectual and political energy, and it was not a conscious choice but I just kept going to school. I never wanted to leave the university setting.”
This view of campuses has shaped Brann’s approach to teaching. “As an educator here at Cornell, my job is to engage students in inquiry about matters typically spoken about as if they are simple or straightforward,” Brann said.
“I always liked historical fiction when I was a kid,” recounted Prof. Sara Pritchard, science and technology studies. “I liked reading stories set in the past. I will confess, I was a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie series.”
Despite her early interest in history, Pritchard said her ambitions were not particularly lofty growing up as a child — and most certainly not academic. “I never wanted to be an astronaut as a child,” Pritchard said. “I’ll admit that I had very gendered ideas about my future.